And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
As we look at the Gospels, we see Jesus going through and calling out the 12 Apostles. In the verse above, He is calling out Matthew, called Levi in the Hebrew tongue, and Matthew immediately leaves to follow Him. Such was the case with all the Disciples. They left to go follow and learn from Christ, this is discipleship. Discipleship is a very important thing, and done correctly, one doesnít just try to learn what their teacher knows; they try to become that person, or rather, at least become LIKE him.
What I want to draw to your attention though, is that from the very get-go, Jesus was testing their hearts, tearing down walls, and making them grow. How? Peter, John, James, and Andrew were all fishermen. In fact, James and John were a part of a rather large operation because they had people working for them. During this period, Rome had control over Israel and was taxing just about everything at a much higher rate than what we complain about today. Probably close to double. The Jewish people who took up their money were called publicans, as Matthew is referred to here. The significance? Well, the receipt of custom was at the sea-side where the ships came in and left. Basically, every time these fishermen went out, they were faced with paying tribute money to Matthew, and publicans were not well thought of at all. So amongst these fishermen Jesus calls, a publican is called too. Hmm, awkward moment? Yeah, but it got worse:
And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
They had to go to his house and eat with all his publican friends and sinners. WHAT? This guy that has been taking their money, fish, and who knows what else, all the sudden they have to cozy up to him? Are you serious? Yes. Jesus was. Why? Because, God is love, and love knows no boundaries. It doesnít know skin color. It doesnít know nationality. It doesnít care about your past. It could care less what you look like on the outside, or how much money you have, or donít have. You want to be like Christ? Tear your walls down. Many people go through life fooling themselves into thinking they are following Christ, but canít even get past the very first lesson He taught the Disciples. They flap their mouths sounding like it, saying they donít have a problem with people of other races, but then I hear the same ones make racial slurs. They parrot what Christ says and say they donít hold anything against their enemies or people that hurt them, but then I hear them lambaste people for something that happened in the past. They say they will ďgo unto all nations preaching and teaching the GospelĒ, but what happens when they come to a table, as the Disciples did, full of the ďothersĒ? They go somewhere else.
If you miss the first step on a staircase going down, itís a hard tumble on the rest of them. Do you wonder why you have difficulty following the other teachings of Christ? Itís because you keep stumbling over the first step. Why is that the first step? Because, look how much Jesus could have had to hold against you or me so as not to forgive us, or provide a way of salvation; but He did.
1 John 4:19-21
19 We love him, because he first loved us.
20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
In His Grace,
Mike Harris Jr.
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